Make Learning a Foreign Language a Family Affair!

Knowing how to speak a foreign language is a valuable skill. It makes you versatile and opens worlds of opportunity. It’s never too late or even too early to learn a foreign language. We all know that America is turning “brown” and languages like Spanish will become a great asset.

So make it a family affair! Get the whole family involved from young to old. Or get your BFF, boyfriend or girlfriend to take on learning with you.  Then – the next time you go travel abroad – speak to a co-worker – go out for Mexican or even Mandarin — surprise those who speak the language by answering back in their native tongue!

Try these ideas for starters …

Try something easy that you already know. Start with songs and nursery rhymes in another language. The Internet (especially YouTube) is a great resource for finding songs or nursery rhymes that you can learn and memorize together.

Mary Had a Little Lamb (Spanish)

Mary tenía un pequeño cordero
Cuya lana era blanca como la nieve
En todas partes aquella Mary fue
cordero estaba seguro para ir

Jack Be Nimble (Spanish)

Jack ser ágil
ser rápido
brinca sobre el candelero

Check your library. They often have books in English and also foreign translations. Get both. Especially if they have audio versions. Start with a book you’re familiar with to make the language easier to grasp. Pause when you come across a word you don’t know and look it up in a dictionary online.

Bilingual schools. Find schools in your community that have bilingual programs. See if they are open for residents of the community to attend. Another option is to check high schools that have foreign language classes or clubs. Ask if you can join. 

Make friends with those who speak a different language. As the racial colors of communities and workplaces change, it’s likely you have neighbors or co-workers who speak another language. Or perhaps your children have friends and parents who are bilingual. Ask them if they might help you learn their language. Perhaps you can barter services for lessons – like babysitting, car washing or pet sitting.

Have a weekly foreign TV or movie night. There are tons of movies that come with the option to watch with sound or subtitles in a foreign language. Newer televisions also have the option. Watch in the foreign language and choose the option to have the subtitles in English. Start with kid’s shows since they usually have short sentences and lots of repetition. In fact – make watching a foreign TV show a must for your family one night each week.


Write something and translate it. Take a poem that you love or a paragraph from a book and use the Internet to translate it into a foreign language. Look for apps with audio/voice capabilities to hear the words spoken.

Post It Notes. Focus on words for everyday things you use around the house. Write their foreign language equivalent on post it notes and put them on the item. When family members ask for an item make them use the foreign language word.